Are you a digital designer shifting to freelance work or a new designer looking to freelance? Here’s our guide on how to start your career in freelance digital design!
Is Digital Design Similar to Graphic Design?
It can be considered a subset of graphic design where your designs appear on a computer instead of prints. As a freelance digital designer, you can specialize in the following designs:
- Digital ads
- Social media images
- Social media ads
- Email templates
- Online magazines
- YouTube thumbnails
- Web designs
- Blog graphics
- Animated images
How Much to Charge for Digital Design?
This depends on your experience level and the designs you’ll offer.
For digital designers without experience working for clients, you can start small. You can set a $15 to $30 hourly price. That’s a reasonable rate. However, if you have acquired years of experience and a substantial portfolio, you can set $30 to $70 hourly. Additionally, it’s also up to you if you want to charge hourly or per project. If it’s per project and you’re new, you can go for a $20 to $60 price for a one-time project. Meanwhile, if you have experience, you can start with $60.
How To Start Without Any Working Experience
Many clients will rely on digital designers with experience and a portfolio. You can use previous works from school, university, or when learning design. This is a great stepping point for new graduates or those who have recently finished a design course.
Another way to earn experience is to reach out to friends and family needing designs. They can refer you to other connections, which would be a plus for you. Meanwhile, if you’re working directly with a friend or family member, ensure you agree regarding price and turnaround times. This way, they know what to expect when working with you on a project.
Some designers will also resort to design contests. It's one way to build their portfolio, considering that clients are looking for various designs depending on their requirements. One huge caveat of joining design contests is that you don't get paid if you don't have the winning design.
The last approach to building your portfolio is creating designs for your niche. You don't need to get clients yet. In fact, by practicing your craft, you can add more creations to your portfolio.
Of course, this takes time and money, but once you master your design niche, you’ll get a return on investment.
Even though you’re new, you can also prepare for your journey into a freelance digital designer below.
How to Shift to Freelance Digital Design
If you’ve worked as an in-house designer for businesses or agencies, you can shift to freelance digital design to earn more experience and money from various clients. Here’s what you need to know before becoming a freelance digital designer.
1. Identify Your Niche
Many freelance digital designers specialize in various graphic design work, like logos, digital ads, and web design. You can opt to specialize in general digital design work, leaving you open to getting more clients for various projects. However, you can select a specialty to become an expert in one field.
2. Organize Your Portfolio
Most freelance sites allow you to post your portfolio. This way, your potential clients can review your work before they invite or message you for a project or long-term work. You want to showcase your best work to get leads. If you specialize in one field, it’s best to focus your portfolio on works based on your niche. You can also show that you can design various styles.
3. Review Pricing
You may have an idea of how much you’re selling your services. But did you check if it’s competitive enough? In that case, you need to browse your fellow freelancers’ prices before setting yours. Don’t sell yourself short. At the same time, ensure that the rate is reasonable. Additionally, with pricing, you have to indicate what’s included there, such as other services offered and files provided.
4. List on Freelance Sites
Once you’ve finalized your portfolio and pricing, you’re ready to show the world what you can do by posting your profile and portfolio on freelance sites.
Design freelance sites have various features that allow you to showcase your work. You can also indicate your price and other services.
Meanwhile, other freelance services have a vetting process. These freelance services require several years of experience before getting accepted.
Finally, the last type of freelance site is posting your portfolio only. But you could also add your contact details so your potential client can contact you immediately.
5. Promote Yourself
Finally, once you’ve posted on your preferred freelance site, don’t hesitate to promote yourself and your services on social media or forums. It may be weird or awkward at first, but getting out there will make you visible. Plus, you might find other clients from other platforms!
Do You Need a Website?
A website is a definite plus, especially if you want to attract more clients. Not only that, but you’ll also have a personalized platform to sell your services without a third-party freelance platform. You can consider starting a website if you’re an established digital designer. Plus, you’ll have the time and money to manage your website and accept inquiries from potential clients.
Freelance Sites to List in
1. Freelance Marketplaces
Freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, and Freelancer allow you to post your profile and portfolio. From there, clients can message or invite you to a project. Some businesses may look for long-term work as well. Some freelance marketplaces have other features. For example, Upwork allows you to post projects aside from your portfolio. Meanwhile, Fiverr can connect you to well-known brands if you’re a Fiverr Pro freelancer.
2. Freelance Portfolio Sites
Behance and Dribbble are two freelance portfolio sites wherein you can get hired as well. Both sites have branched out in allowing businesses to hire freelancers by posting jobs or sending them messages for projects. You can post on these sites for free and showcase your best work!
3. Vetted Freelance Sites
You can also get listed on vetted freelance sites. However, this could be tricky for newer freelance digital designers, considering they prefer talents with experience. You can try applying for Toptal and Flexiple to get matched with clients!